LONDON – Alexis Sanchez ensured Arsenal’s stormy season will end with an FA Cup final after securing a 2-1 victory over Manchester City in extra time at Wembley on Sunday.
The Chilean star is approaching the final year of his contract and talks over an extension are on hold until the summer.
Arsenal will play Chelsea on May 27 in their third FA Cup final in four seasons. The competition has provided a comfort blanket for Arsene Wenger as he has failed to deliver the Premier League trophy since 2004.
City had led against Arsenal in north London, with Sergio Aguero completing a second-half counterattack in the 63rd minute after Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey gave the ball away in the opposition half.
But Arsenal displayed the resolve lacking so often this year to turn the semi-final around, with Nacho Monreal producing a rare goal nine minutes later from a cross by Arsenal’s other wing back Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
And Sanchez came through for Arsenal in extra time, just as he did for the joint-record 12-time FA Cup winners in the 2015 semi-final, producing a winner in the 101st minute.
Mesut Ozil’s free kick was headed down by Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck missed his attempt but Sanchez demonstrated his poacher’s instinct to nudge the ball over the line.
Arsene Wenger says Arsenal’s “animal” Alexis Sanchez will still be at the club next season.
City are understood to be interested in signing Sanchez but Wenger, whose own deal is up at the end of the season, has again ruled out selling his top scorer rather than risk losing him for nothing in a year’s time.
“Alexis Sanchez was like the team,” Wenger said after taking Arsenal to a record 20th FA Cup final. “He had problems to start and became stronger and stronger.
“He is an animal, always ready to kill the opponent. He will never give up. He will be here next year because he has a contract and hopefully we will manage to extend.”
Sanchez, shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year award in two of his three Premier League seasons, and Mesut Ozil are the most high-profile of several Arsenal players whose contracts are due to expire in 2018.